We thought we knew what we were getting into, but we had no idea.
Before Ray and I got together, he had an organization called True Heroes Under God (T.H.U.G.) which purposed to represent talented, vulnerable youth in the music industry. I was a middle school teacher with love for music and dance and a heart for orphans. In our preliminary jabber sessions about what our future would look like, we talked about family-style children’s homes and a compound with a studio, but we really didn’t have a clue about how to turn our ideas into a cohesive unit.
In April we finally got a clear vision and we began writing it down… on our bedroom wall.
There are many existing children’s homes that would love to provide extracurricular activities for their kids, but only have the resources to cover the basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, and education. That’s where The Joshua Blueprint comes in. We want to come alongside existing children’s homes and schools for orphans and provide access to art and music education.
Our ultimate goal is to provide a facility where the kids from all participating organizations can come and be trained in music, art, dance, film/photography, and acting. There are so many talented kids out here, you’d be amazed. They just need the opportunity. Therefore, our aim is to help these kids develop their God-given talents unto the glory of the Lamb. We want to teach them how the use of their gifts is worship unto the Lord, provide a platform to use their talents to minister to others, start a house of prayer where worship, dance, and art can all be incorporated, and transform the Kenyan music and arts industries for the kingdom of God.
The facility is a long-term goal, but in the meantime we decided to go to a city in the western province of Kenya called Kitale, where there are a large number of organizations that cater to vulnerable children. Rick Strickland, a great friend of ours who works with the Pokot tribe, referred us to three amazing people:
Bill and Patricia Cornell, Vision for Africa
Jeff and Carla Piccici, Rehema, In Step Foundation Children’s Home
Bud and Kimberly Huffman, Mattaw Children’s Village
Our visit began and ended with Bill and Patricia. Of all the new friends and contacts we made in Kitale, they were the most significant. I’ll tell you why in a later post, but without a doubt, they encouraged us personally and spiritually in a way that left a great impact on our hearts.
A glimpse into the beauty of servitude
Under the leadership of the Cornells and the demonstration of Bill’s terrific ability to use four-wheel drive, we arrived at our first destination deep in the interior of western Kenya, Kiminini. Pastor Victor, the founder of Shalom Academy for Orphans, was not available for us to speak with, but we were able to visit the sites of the schools and dialogue with the teachers.
With the help of some generous benefactors, Pastor Victor has been able to take in 472 kids and give them access to education and food they otherwise would not have been able to afford.
The mud building pictured below is where they started out, but new schools have been built and they are migrating all of the students into the new buildings.
In the following year, we hope to help Pastor Victor incorporate arts into the students’ curriculum. They also have a desire to compete in music festivals, and they hope that we can help them achieve that goal.
Meeting with like minds
Following our visit to the school, we met with Jeff and Carla in town. Unfortunately, time did not allow for us to get to visit their ministry base, but we had a great time talking with the couple about their vision for the kids that they care for and how we can help them. Their ministry is located in Cherengani, Kitale and currently caters to 153 kids, mostly babies. Although they primarily focus on caring for the basic needs of the children, they also desire to build a medical center and school. In the meantime we would help out with the older kids and get them engaged in some extracurricular activities.
The ones that move His heart
Our final visit was to the Mattaw Children’s Village. Bud and Kimberly Huffman are some of the smartest people we know when it comes to organizing the structure of an overseas ministry. We learned so much from Bud (Kimberly was in Congo pursuing the onset of a dream the Lord put in her heart a long time ago) about how to begin as a fledgling organization, and he answered many of the questions we had been praying about the past few months.
On a tour of the village we got to see the five houses where they have married parents caring for 12 kids (six girls, six boys), a farm where the children are learning to grow their own produce and livestock, a large open play area, and a church where they are currently hosting 24/7 prayer for Kimberly’s safe return from Congo.
In the future we hope to not only work with training the little ones in music and art, but to teach the kids how to use instruments to engage in the flow of the Holy Spirit in a worship setting. The Mattaw family already has dynamic times of worship together when they meet for church, but in areas such as playing the keyboard, there is a need for something more than the same melody that runs through most songs you hear in Kenyan worship. By simply teaching scales, how to arpeggiate chords, and the circle of fifths, we can unlock keys for these young worshipers to really set an atmosphere for the presence of God.
Gearing up for change
We are still keeping to our commitment as a couple to not get involved in ministry until after a year of marriage has passed, but we will spend the next five months researching, networking, and planning. As we pursue the implementation of this vision, we would love your prayers. Please check out our new Prayer Requests page and let us know you’re standing with us.
Also, feel free to check out the links of the organizations we mentioned and to “like” our Joshua Blueprint Facebook page. You can find tons of pictures of the kiddos there as well as get updates about how the ministry is developing.
We appreciate your love and support through this season of change. God bless.